Cerebral palsy is a chronic long-term medical condition that requires multiple supportive care services throughout a child’s upbringing into adulthood.
And while many cases of cerebral palsy are congenital, meaning the child developed the condition in the womb, there are still too many instances of acquired cerebral palsy occurring from medical errors or negligence.
The financial and emotional cost of raising children with cerebral palsy is immense. Medical costs for children with cerebral palsy are around 10 times higher than for children without.
If medical malpractice or negligence is responsible for causing your child’s cerebral palsy, you may be entitled to a medical malpractice settlement.
Continue reading to learn more about cerebral palsy, its causes, and how to file a cerebral palsy lawsuit so you can get the compensation you and your family deserve.
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What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affects a person’s motor movements, balance, and posture.
It is often a congenital disease that causes abnormal brain development or damage to the brain before birth. However, cerebral palsy can also be caused by physical trauma during or immediately following childbirth. When it’s caused by external forces, such as medical negligence or traumatic birth injuries, it’s called acquired cerebral palsy.
Children with cerebral palsy may have:
- Learning disabilities (over half of children with cerebral palsy have learning disabilities)
- Involuntary motion
- Floppy or rigid limbs
- Muscle spasms
- Walking on tiptoes
- Development problems, such as delayed walking
- Hearing loss
- Possible urinary incontinence
- Problems with communication
- Swallowing difficulties
How Does Medical Negligence Lead to Cerebral Palsy?
The majority of cerebral palsy cases (85-90%) are caused by congenital or developmental brain malformations occurring before birth.
However, there’s still unfortunately a high percentage of acquired cerebral palsy resulting from medical malpractice or negligence by the doctor and nursing staff during delivery.
Childbirth can often lead to minor injuries for the child and mother, however, in many cases, these injuries heal themselves within days or weeks.
But, there are specific events that can occur during delivery that can cause cerebral palsy to happen inside the infant’s body. These can include:
- Using excessive force from forceps or vacuum extractors to pull the baby out of the mother’s womb, resulting in hemorrhaging or nerve damage
- Failure to perform an emergency C-section if the baby is in distress
- Surgical errors caused by C-section
- Not properly monitoring the fetus’ oxygen or heart rate level during labor
- Failure to resuscitate a newborn
- Neglected to diagnose a large baby that could cause a difficult delivery
- Failure to treat severe jaundice
- Administering too much anesthesia during delivery
How Is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?
Diagnosing cerebral palsy can be difficult immediately following delivery, and often the symptoms don’t present themselves until later in a child’s development process.
There is no single test that can definitively test for cerebral palsy, although doctors and neonatal specialists should be able to identify signs of neurological damage in a newborn.
Doctors often use an “Apgar Test” to monitor a baby’s health immediately following delivery. Children with low Apgar scores may indicate cerebral palsy.
Physical and cognitive signs may indicate cerebral palsy, although the symptoms vary widely. They can include:
- Poor muscle tone in a baby’s limbs, including floppy arms and legs
- Inability for the baby to hold its head up
- Difficulty with motor skills
- Delayed development in rolling over, crawling, and walking
- Poor balance
- Involuntary movements and tremors
- Abnormal posture, favoring one side more than the other for activities
- Inability to stand without holding onto a support
When Happens During a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit?
If you feel your child acquired cerebral palsy as a result of medical negligence, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
First, you will need to contact medical malpractice attorneys who can guide you through the legal process and help you determine if you have a valid case.
With your attorney’s counsel, you will be advised to gather evidence and documentation of medical records from before, during, and after the birth.
To have a successful case, you’ll need to prove four foundational legal concepts to constitute a medical malpractice claim — Duty, Breach, Causation, and Damages.
The doctor or healthcare provider failed to provide a legally-obligated standard of care. This means proving that another similarly trained doctor wouldn’t have made the same mistakes that resulted in cerebral palsy.
The doctor breached the duty of care, resulting in a failure to provide a standard of care. This can occur when the healthcare provider fails to act appropriately or in a timely manner resulting in malpractice
You’ll need to provide proof that the doctor’s direct actions were the cause of your child’s cerebral palsy.
You’ll need to provide proof of medical bills, treatments, and care required because of the cerebral palsy malpractice. This can also include lost wages due to taking time off to care for your child.
These damages provide quantifiable proof of harm and suffering caused by the healthcare providers’ errors.
Do I Have a Case?
It can often be difficult for doctors to properly diagnose cerebral palsy immediately following delivery, and many times symptoms won’t present themselves until later in the child’s developmental process.
If you or your loved ones suspect your child may have cerebral palsy as a result of medical negligence, don’t wait to file your claim.
Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can review your situation to determine if you have a malpractice case.
Book Your No-Cost Consultation Today with Grover Lewis Johnson
Grover Lewis Johnson is an experienced team of medical malpractice attorneys with more than 25 years of experience.
Our team works on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay anything unless we win your case.
If your child acquired cerebral palsy through medical negligence and you want to file a lawsuit, book your no-cost consultation today.
We’ll answer your questions, help gather evidence, and find the necessary experts to help you win your claim.